Convention centre hailed as a
€1,500 per delegate will boost economy, claims Taoiseach
TAOISEACH Brian Cowen last night claimed that every delegate attending the newly unveiled Dublin Convention Centre will be worth more than €1,500 to the struggling Irish economy.
The convention centre, which can accommodate up to 8,000 delegates, will provide a massive boost to the economy through conference fees and the spin-off business for hotels, restaurants, taxis, pubs, shops as well as cultural and tourist attractions, Mr Cowen said.
Built at a cost of €380m, the centre was officially opened yesterday by the Taoiseach, Richard Barrett of the Spencer Dock Convention Centre Dublin, Johnny Ronan of Treasury Holdings and Harry Crosbie of the Point Village.
Conferences already booked into the futuristic building on the Liffey will benefit the Dublin economy by about €120m, according to the Dublin Chamber of Commerce.
"The opening of the Convention Centre Dublin (CCD) marks the beginning of a new era for convention and business tourism in Ireland," Mr Cowen said.
"One area of opportunity for us is business tourism. This centre will help Ireland win a greater share of this lucrative market, which, despite the downturn, continues to provide high-value visitors."
He claimed each delegate would be worth more than €1,500 to the Irish economy.
Tourism Minister Mary Hanafin said the opening of the centre marked a "great day" for tourism in Ireland.
Last year, the country attracted 950,000 business tourists. The Government now hopes to double that number with the opening of the convention centre, which offers a 2,000-seat auditorium, 4,500sqm of exhibition space and banqueting facilities for up to 5,000 guests.
Over its six floors, there are 22 meeting rooms, as well as an extensive carpeted room with capacity for more than 3,000 conference delegates or up to 2,000 diners.
Under the public-private partnership agreement, the State, through the Office of Public Works, will pay an annual charge of approximately €47m or about €3.9m a month for the first five years, and just under €24m for the next 20.
The CCD building was designed by Pritzker Prize-winning, Irish-born architect Kevin Roche. Its focal point is a unique glass atrium, which contains 475 panes of different-sized curved glass panels that encompass the full height of the building.
Chairman of the new centre Dermot Dwyer said it would have an "enormous impact" on the Irish economy.
"The CCD is a truly outstanding building. Not only does it enhance the Dublin skyline, but because it was designed from the inside out, it provides the optimal user experience for all visitors," Mr Dwyer said.
"This iconic landmark will allow us to demonstrate new international standards of hospitality coupled with the renowned Irish welcome. I am confident we are on track to reach our goal of being recognised as the best conference centre in Europe by 2014."
The venue has also created both full-time and part-time jobs, with staff possibly exceeding 250 on any given day depending on the size and number of events.
Meanwhile, Ms Hanafin signalled that she will examine the controversial €10 airport tax as the Budget nears. Airlines and tourism bodies have called for it to be scrapped, but the minister would only say she is "analysing" their arguments.
"It is a budgetary matter but I'll certainly be discussing it with the Finance Minister to see if there are alternatives, if it has brought in the type of money that was anticipated, if it is impacting on the tourist industry," Ms Hanafin said.